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Contact: Sarah Haas, 435.834.4753
The National Park Service has issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for a project to construct five Wildlife Viewing Pullouts along the main park road at Bryce Canyon National Park. Intermountain Regional Director John Wessels approved the FONSI based on the environmental assessment recommended by Jeff Bradybaugh, Superintendent at Bryce Canyon National Park. Utah Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer, Lori Hunsaker, concurred with the finding of no adverse effect to historic and cultural resources. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Utah Field Office, issued a Biological Opinion for the project related to adverse affects to the Utah prairie dog, a federally listed threatened species within the park. The Biological Opinion outlines conservation measures that will be incorporated into project implementation to reduce negative impacts to Utah prairie dogs within Bryce Canyon National Park. With the environmental assessment and associated compliance completed, construction of the wildlife viewing pullouts can be initiated at the park's discretion.
The environmental assessment evaluated three alternatives: a no-action alternative (Alternative A), an action alternative to construct five wildlife viewing pullouts (Alternative B), and a modified action alternative that avoids all meadow habitat within close proximity to active Utah prairie dog colonies (Alternative C). The no-action alternative was used as a baseline assessment, while the action alternatives address the environmental impacts associated with construction of wildlife viewing pullouts. Alternative B was selected as the NPS preferred action. Two of the viewing pullouts will be constructed in the vicinity (within 350') of colonies of Utah prairie dogs within the park and will allow the public greater educational opportunities to observe and learn about the species via wayside exhibits. Educational signs/exhibits will be developed at a minimum of three of the pullout locations addressing topics such as the Utah prairie dog, other wildlife species in meadow habitats, the importance of meadows as wildlife feeding and movement corridors, and other topics.
Alternative B was determined to best meet the purpose and need for the project as well as the project objectives to: 1) improve visitor safety while viewing wildlife along the main park road; 2) enhance visitor knowledge and awareness of park resources and increase visitor satisfaction during their visit to Bryce Canyon National Park; and 3) protect sensitive meadow habitat along the main park road.
For more information about this project or to obtain a copy of the FONSI, contact the Bryce Canyon National Park Compliance Specialist at (435) 834-4753, look at the park's website www.nps.gov/brca (under Management/Park Planning) or the NPS Planning, Environment, and Public Comment website at http://parkplanning.nps.gov.